Felipe cervera

PERFORMANCE, ASTRONOMY, and ASTRONAUTICS

Theatre-making and collaborative practices

 

Thanks for visiting

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I am a theatre and performance maker, lecturer and researcher. I hold degrees from NUS (Singapore), Kent (UK) and UNAM (Mexico). My academic work centres on the intersections of astronomy, astronautics and performance theory. I also write about contemporary theatre, politics and globalisation. I have published in Theatre Research International, Performance Research, Performance Philosophy, GPS: Global Performance Studies and in Investigación Teatral, among others. As an actor and director, I have worked and toured in Mexico, Argentina, USA, UK, France, Egypt and Singapore. I am a lecturer of theatre and performance at LASALLE College of the Arts (Singapore), where I am also in charge of the BA(Hons) Acting Programme.

I serve as the associate editor of Global Performance Studies (GPS)

You can find links to some of my publications, research projects, theatre works, and teaching on this page. For a full CV, you can follow this link. 

 

EDUCATION

NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE        

PhD in Theatre Studies (2018)

Thesis title: Planetary Performance Theory

Faculty nomination for the Wang Gungwu Award and Medal for best PhD Thesis in the Social Sciences and Humanities, NUS.

Supervisor: Dr Graham Wolfe

Thesis committee: A/P John W. Phillips and Dr Peilin Liang

Examiners: Professor Maaike Bleeker, Professor Jon Mckenzie, A/P Yong Li Lan.

university of kent at canterbury (uk)

MA in Drama by Practice-as-Research (2011)

Dissertation title: The Story of Imam Hussein: A Cross-cultural Experiment Inspired by Ta'ziyeh

Supervisors: Professor Paul Allain and Professor Frank Camilleri

national autonomous university of mexico

BA (Hons) Dramatic Literature and Theatre (graduated with distinction, 2008)                                                   

Dissertation title: God's Messenger: A Ta'ziyeh Play

Supervisor: Dr Ricardo García-Arteaga

 
 

RESEARCH: PERFORMANCE, ASTRONOMY, & ASTRONAUTICS

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My doctoral dissertation mapped some of the historical and theoretical intersections between performance theory, astronomy, and astronautics. Titled Planetary Performance Theory, its chapters draw from a pool of historical examples of political, scientific, cultural, and artistic performances in order to trace different epistemologies and paradigms of ‘the extraterrestrial’. The argument takes the perspective of performance studies and explores ‘performance’ and ‘performativity’ as methodological angles for the study of the history of science and technology. 

Currently, I am working on my first book, tentatively titled Planetary Regimes: Performance and The Extraterrestrial

Below are some publications and presentation that stem this research project:  

 

PUBLICATIONS:

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NAMING THE COSMOS DEATH: ON PERFORMANCE, ASTRONOMY, AND KATIE PATERSON'S THE DYING STAR LETTERS

Performance Research 22:5 ‘On Names’ (2017) pp.28-34.

Between 2010 and 2016, Scottish artist Katie Paterson (b. 1981) subscribed to a mailing list that alerts astronomers and scientists around the world when the ‘death’ of a star has been observed and recorded. Whenever she received an alarm, Paterson would then write a quick letter announcing the death of that star and send it to a pre-selected gallerist or recipient.   

Read more. 

Photo credit: Katie Paterson, The Dying Star Letters, 2011, ink on paper. Installation view Haunch of Venison, London, 2012. Photo Peter Mallet, courtesy of Haunch of Venison, London.

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ASTROAESTHETICS: PERFORMANCE AND THE RISE OF INTERPLANETARY CULTURE

Theatre Research International, 41:3, pp. 258-275, 2016.

Recent years have seen an increase in extraterrestrial exploration projects. What was once a series of competing displays of Cold War political and military might between the US and the USSR has now re-emerged with international collaborations and fresh contestants that range from newly developed, government-based Space programmes to a growing list of private and corporate investors and entrepreneurs. Historically, performances and performative actions and utterances have been important instruments for the representation and politicization of outer-Space discovery and exploration. 

Read more.

Photo credit: Red Bull Stratos/Red Bull Content Pool. Image courtesy of Red Bull.

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EXTRATERRESTRIAL CULTURE: HOW WE EXPRESS OURSELVES THROUGH SPACE EXPLORATION

Guest blog for The Planetary Society. April 2017. 

Terrestrial cultures have (always) had a degree of extraterrestrial-ity in them. Cultural astronomers and archeoastronomers (historians and scientists that work with the history of extraterrestrial observation and its impacts on civilization) have demonstrated that this was already a constant in ancient civilizations, with examples such as the rituals performed in places like Stonehenge and Chichen Itza. Indeed, the extraterrestrial has been a constant feature in the human history.

Read more.

Photo: Pete Conrad at the Surveyor 3 Spacecraft, with the Apollo 12 Lunar Module in the Background.  NASA. 

 

Latest talk: This is How the Future Catches Up

Singapore International Festival of Arts 2018

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The space race of the 21st century is evolving rapidly, with fiction often paling next to reality. Today, the solar system is being mapped in increasing detail, NASA is working towards a Solar System Internet, and the race between corporations such as Space X and Boeing is on to transport humans to Mars. How has artistic media and artists responded to extraterrestrial topics in the face of rapidly progressing science and technology?

In this talk, I looked into the works of artists who are experimenting with new ways of envisioning extraterrestrial exploration. Referencing artists like Scottish Katie Paterson, Australian Sara Morawetz, Mexican Nahum, and Indonesian Venzha Christ, I reflected on the ways in which their art encourages us to think of our place and agency in the universe.

 

PUBLICATIONS ON THEATRE AND PERFORMANCE

I also write about theatre and performance more generally. My favourite topics are theatre and politics, Islamic theatricalities, theatre-making, performance philosophy and disciplinary histories of performance studies. Below are some publications on these topics. 

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THEATRE AND ESCHATOLOGICAL POLITICS

In The Routledge Companion to Theatre and Politics. Edited by Peter Eckersall and Helena Grehan. Routledge. Forthcoming, March 2019.

In a historical moment where quasi-medieval religious narratives sustain an identity politics anchored by violent and chaotic nationalisms (with the US and the Caliphate as only two exemplars), what are the eschatological politics of the world today? Who are the self-proclaimed owners of the end of time and of the final judgement? How are those ends being enacted and contested (or not) in theatre and performance? 

Read more.

Photo: Front cover of Auto del Juicio Final, Fray Andrés de Olmos, Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, México D. F.

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FUTURE NOW

Co-editor. Global Performance Studies 2:2 . February 2019

From the editorial: For decades, “imagining alternative futures” seemed to be the conclusion de rigueur in much of cultural theory and in the arts. Perhaps stemming from and holding on to the radical possibilities of the 1960s, another world has been “possible” for at least two generations of artists and scholars. Even amidst these already radical possibilities, we, in the fields of theatre and performance studies, have considered ourselves particularly exceptional, not least of which is for the very fact that performance creates and presents alternatives—it is performative.

Read more.

Image: Angelus Novus, by Paul Klee (1920)

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PLANETARY PERFORMANCE STUDIES

Global Performance Studies, 1:1 (2017).

This article argues that if PSi is to continue thinking of performance studies as a multiplicity -- and therefore, for its disciplinary commitment to the field at-large, to render that multiplicity effectively operative and critically productive -- the narrative of origins in and of the field needs to be revised. 

Read more. 

Photo: Mick Douglas and Amara Raheem in Circulations. Credit: Felipe Cervera

 
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ON SILENCE, SINGAPORE MALAYS AND JACQUES RANCIÈRE

Performance Philosophy, 2:2 (2017) pp. 310-330.

This article stages the silent adventure of watching theatre about Singapore Malays and reading Jacques Rancière in Singapore. The argument blurs the real and the fictional, the voice of the author with the voice of the spectator, Rancière’s voice with the silence of Maya Raisha, a Malay-Muslim girl. 

Read more. 

Photo credit: Siti Khalijah Zainal in Best Of, by Haresh Sharma. Directed by Alvin Tan. Photo credit: Alan Lim. Courtesy of The Necessary Stage

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POST-GLOBAL ISLAM: REFLECTION INSPIRED BY PROJECT IMAM HUSSEIN (2007-2012)

Investigación Teatral, 3:5, pp.79-9, 2014 (In Spanish).

This article is a reflection on the practice-based research project Imam Hussein (2007 – 2012). The argument discusses the intercultural negotiations with Shi'ite jurisprudence that informed the creative process. 

Read more (in Spanish). 

Photo credit: Cover of Investigación Teatral 3:5. Main photo: Vicky Fuentes in Imam Hussein. Photo credit: Fezhah Maznan

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IS THERE INTERCULTURAL PRACTICE IN MEXICAN THEATRE? 

PasodeGato, Revista Mexicana de Teatro. Jan-March 2013 (In Spanish)

While in English-speaking academia intercultural performance has been widely-discussed in the last thirty years, the focus of discussions have predominantly look at the ways in which North American and European theatricalities have been influenced by African, Middle eastern and Asian theatricalities, and viceversa. With only few exemptions, the intercultural matrix of Latin America in general, and of Mexico in specific, has gone unnoticed by critical and academic attention. Mexican theatre is intercultural by definition.

Photo credit: Diego Piñon

 
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I am a regular contributor to the online magazine ArtsEquator. Based in Singapore, ArtsEquator publishes about film, art and performance in Southeast Asia. 

Southernmost: The Politics of Nowhereness. Performance review. December 2018.

Review of Excavations, Interrogations, Krishen Jit & Contemporary Malaysian Theatre. Book review. September 2018.

And So You See… The Irrational is in the Eye of the Beholder. Performance review.  September 2017. 

Scenes First; Transitions Later. Special contribution May 2017.

Tropicana, The Musical: Memory Malfunction. Performance review. April 2017.

 

THEATRE WORKS

Below are some of my works as an actor and as a director in the last decade.

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Director. Devised in collaboration with Sharon Frese, Kalaiselvi Grace, Rebekah Sangeetha Dorai, Loo Zihan, Adrian Tan, Chan Silei, Riduan Zalani, and Chloe Chotrani.

Commissioned by The Esplanade. The Studios 2019 Season.

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VIRTUALLY NO EXIT

Deviser and performer. Singapore, 2018. Directed by Steve Dixon, in collaboration with Paul Sermon. LASALLE College of the Arts. 

Production images

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COSÌ FAN TUTTE

Director. Singapore, 2018. Libretto by Leonardo Da Ponte. Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.  Commissioned by The Esplanade. Cool Classics Cycle 2018.

Production images

 

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#ISTILLWANTMYPR

Director. Singapore and Malaysia, 2016-17.  Written by Shida Mahadi. Commisioned by Teater Ekamatra. Projek Suitcase Festival 2016 (Singapore)Ipoh Arts Festival 2017 (Malaysia). 

Photo courtesy of Shida Mahadi.

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TROPICAL TRAUMAS

Actor. Singapore 2016. Written and directed by Brian Gothong Tan. Commissioned by Singapore International Festival of Arts 2016.  

Photo credit: Brian Gothong Tan.

Production images

Festival booklet                                                    

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THE INCREDIBLE ADVENTURES OF BORDER CROSSERS

Performer. France and Singapore, 2015.  Conceived and directed by Ong Keng Sen. Commissioned by Festival Singapour in France 2015 and Singapore International Festival of Arts 2015.        

Photo: Douglas Varchol.

Program booklet France

Program booklet Singapore

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INSTRUCTIONS FOR SWIMMING; NOTES ON DROWNING                   

Actor. Singapore, 2015. Written by Michelle Tan and Natalie Hennedige. Directed by Natalie Hennedige.  

Photo: Production of Running with Strippers 2015 by CAKE. Photo taken by Tuckys Photography.

Program booklet

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THE MOUNTAIN

Director. Singapore, 2014.  Written by Amitav Ghosh. Commissioned by M1 Singapore Fringe Festival 2014.

Photo credit: Syahirah Karim. 

Production images

Press

Festival booklet

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GITANJALI [I FEEL THE EARTH MOVE]

Assistant director. Singapore, 2014. By Haresh Sharma. Directed by Alvin Tan. Produced by The Necessary Stage. SOTA Theatre. 

Photo credit: Caleb Ming.

Program booklet

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IMAM HUSSEIN

Original idea and director. Mexico and Singapore, 2010-12. Text by Enrique Olmos de Ita (based on a Si'i tradition).  Commissioned by the Mexico City Theatre Festival 2010. Mexico City Theatre Festival 2010. M1 Singapore Fringe Festival 2012Mexico City Theatre Festival 2012.    

Photo credit: Fezhah Maznan.

Production images

Program booklet 2010-12

M1 Singapore Fringe Festival 2012 Booklet

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CUERDAS

Actor. Mexico, USA, and Argentina, 2010-11. By Bárbara Cólio. Directed by Richard Viqueria.  Querétaro Young Theatre Week 2010 (Mexico). Tijuana National Theatre Festival 2010 (Mexico). Puebla Theatre Festival 2010 (Mexico). Miami Hispanic International Festival 2011 (US). Cervantino International Festival 2011 (Mexico). Mar del Plata International Theatre Festival 2011 (Argentina).      

Photo credit: Hugo Hernández.

Program booklet Mexico

Program booklet Miami

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ADDICTS ANONYMOUS

Actor. Mexico, 2007. By Luis Mario Moncada. Directed by Karla Cantú. Teatro La Capilla, Mexico City

Photo Credit: Blenda. 

Production images

Program booklet

 
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THE ART OF STRANGERS

Since 2013, my directorial work often appears under The Art of Strangers.

The Art of Strangers is an independent creative collective that produces collaborative work that investigates contemporary issues related to education, globalisation and human co-habitance. We started our work in 2013 and have so far created original pieces for the M1 Singapore Fringe Festival and Teater Ekamatra's 5ive and Projek Suitcase. The collective has also collaborated with Centre 42 and Embassy of Mexico in Singapore for an international joint residency titled From the Pacific. The Art of Strangers also plays many different roles through our services of stage and production management.

The Art of Strangers is always looking for new platforms and opportunities for collaboration. if you think we can do something together, do visit theartofstrangers.com

 

TEACHING

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I am a full-time lecturer at the School of Dance and Theatre, LASALLE College of the Arts, but I have been a theatre and performance teacher since 2004. I have taught at multiple levels and in several countries. Below are some of  my most recent experiences as a teacher, workshop leader, and lecturer. 

 
Honours dissertation students from BA Acting and BA Musical Theatre (AY 2016-17)

Honours dissertation students from BA Acting and BA Musical Theatre (AY 2016-17)

 

Performance 1B Devising (AY 2017-18)

Class 1: 00:00:00 - 02:03:25 (first workshop)

Class 10: 02:03:35 - 02:33:30 (drafting)

Class 20: 02:33:30 - 03:03:48 (full draft of exercise)

LASALLE COLLEGE OF THE ARTS

Currently, I teach at the School of Theatre and Dance (Faculty of Performing Arts), in the BA (Hons) in Musical Theatre, BA (Hons) in Acting, and Diploma in Dance. I teach modules about dramatic literature, theatre and performance criticism and research, acting, and interpreting performance. I am also in charge of overseeing the dissertation component at the School. 

 
TS4221 Performance Research laboratory session (AY 2017-18)

TS4221 Performance Research laboratory session (AY 2017-18)

 

 

TS3103 Play Production rehearsal and show sample clip (AY 2014-15)

NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE

From 2012 to 2017, I taught at the Theatre Studies Programme of the English Language and Literature Department. I taught introductory modules to theatre and performance, performance research, and directed the graduating show for the 2015 cohort. 

NUS Arts Fest 2015 Program Booklet

 
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SINGAPORE NATIONAL LIBRARY BOARD

Since 2015, I conduct yearly workshops about devised theatre at the library@esplanade. These workshops are open to public. 

Photo credit: Syahirah Karim

 
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UNITED NATIONS ALLIANCE OF CIVILIZATIONS

In 2013, I was invited by the United Nations to lead two workshops at the United National Alliance of Civilizations Summer School, in New York, USA. The workshops were focused on applying theatre-making techniques to peace processes and intercultural negotiations. 

Photo credit: Aisha Habli

 
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UNAM

In 2010, I was the founding academic convener of the Artistic Outreach Unit at TlatelolcoNational Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). I was in charge of designing the entire curriculum for this new arts school. The school was planned as an interdisciplinary arts centre, with a non-graduating academic offer of the highest artistic quality. The school was located in one of the zones with higher crime-rate in Mexico City. Its mission was to contribute to the social recovery of that area.

 

COLLABORATIVE ACADEMIA: CURRENT and past PROJECTS

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AFTER PERFORMANCE

After Performance was founded in January 2015 as a graduate reading group at the National University of Singapore. Throughout three years of constant and consistent interaction, the reading group has evolved into a working group, and then into an ensemble research group, where members continue to develop a collective professional scholarly practice. We experiment with collaborative techniques for thinking and writing together, as a research ensemble. Members also include: Ella Parry-Davies, Alvin Lim, and Matt Yoxall

After Performance has organised workshops in London, Melbourne and Hamburg. We have also published the following pieces:

1. After Performance: On Transauthorship, in Performance Research, 21.5, pp.35-6, 2016.

2. Vulnerability and The Lonely Scholar, in Contemporary Theatre Review Interventions, 2017.

For more about our work, you can visit After Performance page here

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PERFORMANCE STUDIES INTERNATIONAL FUTURE ADVISORY BOARD

From 2015 to 2018 I was a founding member of The Future Advisory Board (FAB). FAB is a PSi initiative that aims to bring together graduate students and early career scholars and artists worldwide. FAB advises the PSi board with regard to the future of the field as new generations see this. To this end, the FAB initiates projects (both online and at conferences) that demonstrate this diversity and contribute to the further development of Performance Studies in ways that acknowledge this diversity.  We bring together perspectives, strategies, tactics, provocations, ideas, visions, hopes and dreams from our various practices of theory and performance.

FAB has published the following work in GPS: Global Performance Studies: 

1.  Thicker States

2.  Syllabi for the Future: A Playlist (eds.)

3. Future Now (eds).

For more, you can visit PSi FAB webpage page here